Can you feel it?
There's a resurgence afoot. We're slowly, but surely, emerging from our collective motorcycle malaise. New models are being rolled out, and there are some truly tasty offerings already in, or coming soon to bike dealerships near you.
As streetbike riders, we love performance, but we also want to be comfortable. We want to sit upright, not in a constant state of doing push-ups and not like we're watching the game in the recliner at home. Also, we want a deal. We want value. We get all misty-eyed at the mere mention of carburetors, but we pine for fuel injection, with no pilot jets to clog every spring, or the dreaded surging and bucking from too-lean mixtures forced by the dreaded EPA. We liked the standards of decades past. The so-called "UJMs," which stood for Universal Japanese Motorcycles. But this is the New Millennium, and we'd like a little bit of visceral to go along with our Universal.
Unquestionably these are good times for our kind. While financial devastation continues to rock the European motorcycle industry, here in the US, we're clawing back-with help from several new models that are both fun and cheap. Examples? While it won't win a Superbike race without rolling into a time machine first, the Honda CB1000R is probably the best "standard" bike we've ever ridden. Its fuel injection, clutch and chassis make it the most absolutely perfect streetbike for ordinary day to day use we've ever ridden. It is so well balanced that-for the first time in our riding liveswe're considering buying the OEM tires for the bike when times comes, just so as to not mess up the beautiful balance of the CB1000R.
Others? Honda's Honda CBR250R-you can get one with ABS for under $5k. Need more bike? The Honda CB500F is a fuel injected twin for $5500.
And now, enter the Yamaha FZ-09 which debuted last week and will hit dealerships in late 2013.
Is it a standard? Yes, you could say that...sort of. But, it's arguably the most non-standard standard that's ever been created. First and foremost, the engine is a triple, and three-cylinder engines are inherently non-standard. They're not unheard of, though, as Triumph has had a lot of success over the past several years with their Speed Triples and even their Daytona 675 sportbike.
|While it won't win a Superbike race without rolling into a time machine first, the Honda CB1000R is probably the best "standard" bike we've ever ridden. Its fuel injection, clutch and chassis make it the most absolutely perfect streetbike for ordinary day to day use we've ever ridden.|
But, the FZ-09 triple is different, even for a triple. It's got a primary coupled-force balancer that revolves in the opposite direction and at the same exact speed as the crankshaft, for a smoothness and lack of vibration that is almost eerie.
In addition, Yamaha employed the same "Crossplane Crankshaft Concept" in the FZ-09 that's been so successful in the YZF-R1. And, even though the FZ-09 is a three-cylinder, the crossplane crank provides the same benefits as it does in the four-cylinder R1. For example, smooth torque and excellent power characteristics even at low-to-mid rpms. Plus, with the FZ-09, the engine is an entire cylinder narrower, so handling and flickability are inherent in the design.
Then, there's the fuel injection. And not just any fuel injection, mind you. We're talking 12-hole injectors attached directly to the cylinder head that deliver a highly pressurized spray of atomized fuel with droplets as small as a few microns. Those microns of go-juice are directed precisely at the valve skirts, which helps provide optimum fuel combustion for outstanding rideability and performance. The FZ-09 has Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle-and--- The FZ-09 is also equipped with Yamaha D-MODE (or "Drive Mode"), which is a variable throttle control system that lets the rider choose the optimum engine characteristics for his/her riding situation. Operated by a button on the handlebars, three different throttle-valve control maps ("STD" Mode, "A" Mode, and "B" Mode) can be chosen at will by the rider. "STD" Mode accommodates a wide range of riding conditions, so the rider can enjoy the 3-cylinder engine's linear torque feeling--from slow, cruising speeds all the way up to high-zoot velocity. "A" Mode lets the rider enjoy sharper throttle response in the low- to mid-rpm range than the "STD" Mode. "B" Mode lets the rider enjoy milder throttle response than either the "A" Mode or the "STD" Mode for more relaxed power characteristics.
The FZ-09 had savvy and "know a good deal when I see it" motorcyclists attention quickly. The bike has a ton of cool bits and technology but, you don't have to pay big bucks for it. The FZ-09 can be had for just under $8,000, which is a full $900 less than the FZ8. Not only that, but the FZ-09 is also the least expensive bike in its class, which includes the Triumph Street Triple 675 and Triumph Bonneville T100, along with the BMW F800R and the Ducati Monster 976.
Good times, people, good times.